Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.

Mudville Flats: Baseball-themed lodgings for the All-Star Game

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SAN DIEGO — I got to San Diego in time to see the Futures Game and to partake in a culinary tour of Petco Park yesterday. I don’t have much to add to the Futures Game beyond what I wrote yesterday and what Bill did to wrap it all up last night. I’ll have a post about the beer and food at Petco Park up soon. In the meantime, let’s talk about lodgings.

This is my fourth All-Star Game. I learned after the first one that it’s a really good idea to book a hotel for the next one way in advance. So, last year, while I was still in Cincinnati covering that All-Star Game, I hopped on my computer to find a place to stay for this All-Star Game. Hey, if you want to be stuck way up in Temecula or something that’s your choice, but I prefer to be closer to the ballpark. Even by then many of the usual business hotel suspects were already booked or were gouging people well in advance, so I just started to scan a Google map to find a nearby option. As luck would have it, I found Baseball Fan Nirvana: Mudville Flats.

Mudville Flats is a hotel in name only. Well, I suppose it’s a hotel in function too, as you can get a night’s stay at a rate comparable — actually, cheaper — than your typical business hotel in an extraordinarily convenient downtown location. Really extraordinary, actually, as this place is about a four block walk to Petco Park.

The difference: you get an apartment. An actual luxury apartment with a full kitchen with full-sized appliances. A luxury apartment built in 1905 with original wood floors, woodwork, and gorgeous, period-appropriate furniture in a Craftsman style, each unit possessing its own private patio, windows that actually open and stuff like that. The place only has four units but they’re large and comfortable. Oh, and there’s free garage parking too. It’s the sort of thing that, if you suggested it at a meeting of a large hotel conglomerate, they’d frog march you out of the room and blackball you from the industry. You could be in the Free Parking Capital of America and a downtown hotel would still charge you $30 a night to park your car. Not this place.

I’m not writing this simply to provide a hotel review, however. Rather, there’s a pretty spiffy baseball angle to Mudville Flats.

As the name “Mudville” suggests, the place is run by a couple of serious baseball fans and it’s filled with baseball memorabilia. Real memorabilia, not just hokey nods to the “Casey at the Bat.” Stuff like a Braves jersey autographed by members of the 500 home run club, including Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Ernie Banks, Harmon Killebrew and others, hanging right next to the bed in my room:

Braves J

Or an autographed picture of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and a really young Mickey Mantle:

DiM Mick TW

Or a Big Red Machine pic, autographed by Sparky Anderson. Next to a Monkey for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, but just go with it:

Sparky

And some local San Diego flavor, which will remind more casual baseball fans that, yeah, Willie McCovey wasn’t just a San Francisco Giant:

Win McC

All of these things, by the way, are just in my room. The other rooms here are similarly appointed and, presumably, contain baseball stuff of their own (though they may not have the same vintage photo of Wrigley Field in the bathroom that I have; that’s maybe my favorite part). I know the couple of rooms around the corner from mine are occupied by some baseball fanatics, at least: a group of friends from Michigan who go to every All-Star Game, this being their 12th. They plan ahead too, and no doubt picked this place given its manifest appropriateness for a baseball-themed trip.

Linda FunesThe owners and operators of Mudville Flats are Michael and Linda Funes, Midwestern natives who made the wise decision to come to San Diego in the late 90s because snow is for suckers. They purchased this place long before the 10th Avenue corridor down to Petco Park became full of bars, restaurants and high-end apartment buildings. Indeed, they purchased it long before there was a Petco Park at all. Baseball wasn’t even the primary motivation. They simply realized, based on owning a second flat back home in Chicago, that owning a couple more flats and living in one of the units in the building would make for a decent income stream. And, for a time, they simply served as landlords to the people living in the other quite inexpensive apartments.

Around 2008 or so they came to realize that the convention business — ComicCon is the biggie here — and baseball was bringing an increasing number of people looking to stay downtown. It was then that they turned their apartments into vacation rentals. Soon the vacation rentals became short enough term that now it works like a hotel, though there are still a lot of guests who come and stay a week or more. It’s easy to do when you have a full kitchen at your disposal.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 2.08.03 PMThe baseball theme also makes things nice if you’re like me and have baseball junk all over your house. It feels almost like home. It certainly feels like home for Mike. He was born in upstate New York and was a Mets and Yankees fan before moving to Chicago and adopting the Cubs. Baseball is just in his DNA. He was a big card collector in the 1970s and, the nods to baseball’s Golden Era in Mudville Flats notwithstanding, he has a special love for that weirdest of baseball decades. A recent guest was Dan Epstein, author of the seminal 1970s baseball books “Big Hair and Plastic Grass” and “Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76.” The two of them became fast friends. For her part, Linda has been decked out in Padres gear since I got here and is thrilled that the All-Star Game is in her adopted home town. She’s still pleased that she and Mike got featured on the scoreboard at Petco Park last year during an All-Star promo. Most people get anxiety when a big event like the All-Star Game comes to their town. You get the feeling Mike and Linda would relish it even if they weren’t in the hotel business.

It’s only my second day in San Diego and, today, I’ll be covering workouts and press conferences and, this evening, the Home Run Derby. Tomorrow night I’ll be covering the All-Star Game. When I’m done I won’t be walking back to a big corporate hotel with recirculated air, beige carpeting and tasteful but generic artwork on the wall, no doubt bought in bulk. Instead I’ll be sinking into the nice leather couch in my room — the one right under the DiMaggio, Mantle and Williams photo — and enjoying one of the beers Mike gave me, on the house, when I checked in last night:

Casey Beer

Ernest Thayer got it all wrong, you guys. There’s joy in Mudville. Joy a-plenty.

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Dodgers 3, Padres 1: I was in Petco Park, waiting for the Futures Game to start yesterday while watching the Padres play on TV, 122 miles to the north. It just underlined how strange it was to have the Futures Game going on while real baseball games were happening. Although I guess this may not have been a real baseball game as far as the Padres were concerned. They struck out 16 times — 13 from Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda — and generally looked like a club full of players waiting to get away for their three days off in Cabo or wherever they’re going for the break. Petco was was certainly hopping, though. I guess two teams full of prospects are a better product than San Diego fans are accustomed to, so the excitement was understandable.

Nationals 3, Mets 2: Daniel Murphy hit yet another homer against the Mets. That’s seven so far this year. He’s only got 10 more against the rest of baseball. It’s the stuff that launches narratives — REVENGE FOR LETTING HIM GO! — but it’s not like he’s not trying to hit homers against the other teams too. It’s a coincidence, not payback. People have evolved for millions of years in such a way that seeing patterns, signs and connections, even when they may not exist, aid in survival. Are those horizontal strips in the underbrush a tiger, or just a bunch of shadows? Better to assume the tiger. There aren’t too many tigers anymore, so we look for different kinds of patterns now.

Braves 2, White Sox 0: When Mike Foltynewicz looks bad he looks pretty bad, but when he looks good he looks fantastic. This was the good Mike Foltynewicz (7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10K). Jeff Francoeur and Jace Peterson homered. Braves manager Brian Snitker used the phrase “God almighty” as an exclamation when describing Foltynewicz after the game. That’s almost as good as Terry Collins’ famous “cripes!”

Astros 2, Athletics 1: Houston wins on a walkoff E-5. Not the most inspiring form of walkoff win, I don’t suppose, but it still counts. Jake Marisnick, who scored the winning run, said this of the walkoff win: “We seem to be full of those lately. It’s a nod to this team and how we don’t give up.” Maybe it is. Or maybe it was just a nod to how Danny Valencia borked a throw. Or maybe it’s more about the universe’s inherent randomness. Events can have lots of meanings.

Twins 15, Rangers 5: The Twins hit four homers, including a Max Kepler grand slam. The Twins have won Seven of Nine.

Blue Jays 6, Tigers 1: The Blue Jays are entering the All-Star break on a roll, having won eight of nine. They’re 51-40 at the break this year and were 46-45 last year. Granted last year they made some pretty monster trades to give them that second half surge, but they have certainly flipped the script since their sluggish start. Josh Donaldson is tearing the cover off the ball like it was 2015 again himself. He hit a three-run homer here and enters the break batting a cool .304/.418/.598 and is on pace for 41 homers and 112 RBI. Those are better than last year’s rate stats and exactly the number of homers he hit. All he did then was win the MVP.

Orioles 4, Angels 2: For all the good stuff the Jays have been doing the O’s have been doing better. Mostly on the power of their power. Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy homered — the O’s have 137 at the break and that leads all of baseball — and Chris Tillman pitched seven innings, allowing one run on three hits.

Yankees 11, Indians 7: The Indians dropped three of four to the Yankees, but they maintain a 6.5 game lead in the Central so it’s probably OK. The Yankees won three of four against the Indians and that may fool them into thinking they’re good, so that’s probably not OK. Masahiro Tanaka had an 11-1 lead entering the bottom of the fifth and only needed three outs to qualify for the win but the Indians scored six and Tanaka couldn’t make it out of the inning. That’s gotta sting.

Marlins 7, Reds 3: The Marlins sweep the Reds with the aid of a Giancarlo Stanton homer. He now flies here to San Diego for the Home Run Derby. Even if his season has been kind of a mess, you have to think he’ll launch some. That should be fun to see.

Red Sox 4, Rays 0: David Price tossed eight shutout innings with ten strikeouts. David Ortiz hit a two-run shot. The Rays have lost 22 of 25. I’d say they’re skidding into the All-Star break but to skid you have to have some sort of forward momentum first. They’re just kind of, I dunno, plotzing into the All-Star break.

Cubs 6, Pirates 5: Kris Bryant had three hits and reached base four times. His big hit was his go-ahead RBI single in the eighth, which helped the Cubs go ahead for the third time in the game. The Cubs ended their five-game losing streak. For as bad as it’s been in the past couple of weeks for them, they still carry baseball’s biggest lead into the break.

Cardinals 5, Brewers 1: Mike Foltynewicz wasn’t the only guy who struck out 10 over seven innings. Wasn’t even the only Mike. Leake did it too, while allowing one run on six hits. Matt Adams and Steven Piscotty homered.

Mariners 8, Royals 5Robinson Cano and Adam Lind homered in a five-run seventh inning. The Mariners were up and down in the first half but they enter the break a game above .500. Not a lot of people figured they’d do that, I bet.

Phillies 10, Rockies 3: Viva the thin air of Coors Field. According to Elias, Cameron Rupp‘s 465-foot home run was the Phillies’ longest in five years. Then, an inning later, Maikel Franco broke that mark with a 471-foot shot.

Giants 4, Diamondbacks 0: Jake Lamb broke up Madison Bumgarner‘s no-hit bin in the eighth inning. Otherwise MadBum cruised, striking out 14 in a one-hit compete game shutout. In the process he dropped his first half ERA below 2.00 to a cool 1.94 as he picked up his 10th win of the season. The Giants finish the first half with the best record in all of baseball at 57-33.

 

The 2016 Futures Game starts soon. You’ll probably miss it.

Craig Calcaterra
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SAN DIEGO — One of the coolest things surrounding the All-Star Game is the Futures Game. It pits some of the top prospects in all of baseball against one another in a U.S. vs. the World Junior All-Star Game. And unlike the actual All-Star Game, the participants here are hungry. It should be a big event. It should be the annual Gateway Game for casual fans to get to know the next generation of stars. Stars who are not several years away, but who may contribute to playoff runs this season and will certainly become big names in the seasons to come.

Except everyone misses it because they play it on Sunday when actual major league games are taking place, including a nationally-televised game between the Diamondbacks and the Giants and all manner of non-baseball Sunday night prestige TV on various cable channels tonight. Moreover, many members of the media who might cover it are en route to San Diego after covering their team’s Sunday games and will miss it too, giving the game less exposure than it might otherwise get. It’s just bad scheduling, really. They should play it on Monday, do the Home Run Derby on Tuesday and the All-Star Game on Wednesday. Or, if they want to keep the same general schedule, do the Future’s Game and Derby back-to-back on Monday, giving it a spotlight. Oh well, I make that complaint every year and no one listens, so maybe next year I’ll stop bothering to make it.

That bit of grumpiness aside, this year’s Futures Game gets underway at 7pm this evening, 4PM Pacific, here at Petco Park. It will be televised on MLB Network and able to be streamed on MLB.com. Here are the lineups:

U.S. Team

1. CF Andrew Benintendi, BOS
2. 3B Alex Bregman, HOU
3. LF Clint Frazier, CLE
4. RF Hunter Renfroe, SD
5. DH Ryon Healy, OAK
6. 1B Dominic Smith, NYM
7. SS Dansby Swanson, ATL
8. 2B Travis Demeritte, TEX
9. C Chance Sisco, BAL
SP Joe Musgrove, HOU

World Team

1. CF Manuel Margot, SD
2. LF Raimel Tapia, COL
3. 2B Yoan Moncada, BOS
4. RF Tyler O’Neill, SEA
5. 1B Ronald Guzman, TEX
6. 3B Yandy Diaz, CLE
7. C Gary Sanchez, NYY
8. DH Jorge Bonifacio, KC
9. SS Willy Adames, TB
SP Alex Reyes, STL

You may know some of them, you may not. But if not, you will know some of them soon. Last year’s Futures Game showed that the future really does come at you fast, given that guys like Kyle Schwarber, Michael Conforto, Ketel Marte, and Trea Turner participated.

Give the Dbacks and Giants a miss. Also give a miss to the prestige TV. Go to MLB.com or MLB Network and watch the Futures Game instead. Even if Major League Baseball wants to keep it a secret for some reason.